In the very complex context of the discussion between the European Union and Poland concerning the respect of constitutional laws in the country, a Polish cleric, Stanislaus Papczyński, was canonized on June 5. He was the founder of the new priestly order of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
What can we learn today from a person who lived in the eighteenth century, in a context and with a mentality that were totally different from the present? His biography and some of his words can be confusing, reflecting values that may appear obsolete nowadays: love and responsibility towards one’s homeland, respect for life since the moment of its conception, devotion to Our Lady. Only his special sensitivity for Mercy seems to be topical today, thanks to the Jubilee year.
He was a tough and simple mountain dwellers, like many others, who had not had the opportunity to study. His father sent him to be a pastor, but Stanisław was endowed with determination and perseverance, and was in the search of the will of God. Thus, he decided not only to get educated, but also to write a rhetoric manual, becoming one of the most popular confessors. When the Lord asked him to found a new order, he left the Piarists and committed himself to his mission. His plan developed the best way possible, till 1909, when the order risked being left to die out because only one component was left. The latter, however, managed to find another brother before dying, thus avoiding the end of the congregation.
Do you measure holiness on the basis of its effectiveness? Not always. Not everyone can understand the ways God puts before them. Thus, it all comes down to a question of honesty and dedication to what the Lord asks from us. Even today, three centuries later, we can identify with some values of that experience. Without mincing words, Father Stanislaw wrote: “Are you sad? Invoke Jesus and you will receive comfort”; “Do you feel under attack? Pray Jesus and he will defend you!”; “Are you poor? Run to Jesus and he will enrich you”; “Are you naked? Ask Jesus and you will have cloths to wear”; “Are you naive? Jesus is a teacher. May he become your love, joy, comfort, life, and heaven.”
Stanislaw invites us not to become spiritually lazy, to pray for the dead and support parishes. He is revered as the patron of unborn children. Papczynski wrote: “When God sees that some people have compassion for the others, He changes His severe verdicts and overlooks the sins of those who have mercy.”
Some people criticized John Paul II for introducing his private devotion to the Divine Mercy, previously promoted by Saint Sister Faustina Kowalska, in the entire Church. They said that, by so doing, he “contaminated” the ancient liturgical tradition. At present, Pope Francis has even dedicated a Jubilee to Mercy. We may say that the Church deals with issues not taken into account by other sectors of our society, because they are not regarded modern enough. Just think of what is going on in politics. Many popular liberal ideas are creating problems. Hence, desire to rediscover the values of the past is born. Confusion leads us to the things left behind, as part of the pass. This is what is happening in Europe. And one may suspect that the conflict between Poland and the EU is part of of this process.